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Coronavirus: Ex-Arsenal players Alex Song, Johan Djourou released by Swiss club for refusing pay cuts

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Alex Song and Johan Djourou, both former Arsenal players, were two of nine players let go by their Swiss Super League club for not agreeing to take pay cuts after the coronavirus COVID-19 forced play to be suspended.

The Swiss Super League decided to suspend matches on March 1 after the government banned public gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

FC Sion club president Christian Constantin demanded that players on the club take pay cuts since there were no matches to be played, the Mirror reported. Song, who joined Sion in 2018, and Djourou refused and were let go by the team.

Song, a Cameroon international, has also played for Barcelona had stints with Charlton and West Ham. Djourou, who plays for the Switzerland national team, signed a six-month contract with Sion in January.

Club captain Xavier Kouassi and midfielder Pajtim Kasami, formerly of Fulham, were also released for the same reason. Seydou Doumbia, Birama Ndoye, Ermir Lenjani, Mickael Facchinetti and Christian Zock round out the group, per the Mirror.

The Swiss Association of Football Players issued a statement criticizing the dismissals. Via the Mirror:

“We hope these unfair dismissals will be cancelled immediately and that discussions will be started on possible alternatives."

In a statement on players standing in solidarity and a proposal for solutions to the liquidity problem in the league, the SAFP wrote of the firings:

“It's not a way of dealing with your staff in a crisis. None of these players has ever been found to be in breach of contract.”

Per Sky Sports, FC Sion was kicked out of the Europa League in 2011 for fielding an ineligible player and took the case to civil court, breaking FIFA rules. Constantin has employed more than 40 coaches in the 17 years he’s owned the club, per Sky Sports.

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